Monday, March 30, 2009

Environmentalists concerned over FPL's planned expansion of Turkey Point

The Miami Herald reported Sunday that environmental groups concerned over saltwater intrusion into the Biscayne Bay estuary point to FPL's planned expansion of its Turkey Point power plant as one of the projects of most concern.

According to the Herald report:
Florida Power and Light's planned expansion of the Turkey Point nuclear facility also threatens the fresh water supply of many [commercially important fish species], warned Dawn Shirreffs, a Clean Water Action organizer.

The saltwater ''intrusion line,'' which marks how far west that water has crept, is moving between 300 and 400 feet inland every year, she said.

FPL spokesman Michael Waldron said in an e-mail that saltwater intrusion existed several miles inland from the site decades before the plant was built in the early 1970s and that the utility is ``working closely with a number of state, county and regional agencies to monitor the current conditions of the cooling canal system.''

However, Shirreffs said that FPL's plan to dig for fill materials in agriculturally zoned land close to Biscayne National Park could make the situation worse.

Digging the holes at all could pull the intrusion even further inland, [Tropical Audubon Society's Laura] Reynolds said.

''When you dig holes that close to the coast you change the hydrology,'' she added. ``Digging pits pulls water in from other locations because limestone is very porous.''

Environmentalists also believe that the canals which circulate water to cool the existing plant at Turkey Point are making the problem worse. ''FPL says it's a closed system, but it isn't, it leaks,'' said Biscayne National Park resource manager Elsa Alvear.

That water is very salty and dense, blocking the eastward flow of freshwater from inland, Alvear said. She added that water collection wells planned for the plant's expansion would suck up any freshwater used to rehydrate south Miami-Dade's coast, canceling out its intended benefits.
Read the full Miami Herald story online, here.

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